Palin packs a punch

You didn't think vice-presidential candidates could electrify an American electorate, did you?

But that was before Sarah Palin came along.

The energy and passion in her speech Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention was not just an exhortation but an invitation to every citizen: "If character is the measure in this election, and hope the theme, and change the goal we share, then I ask you to join our cause."

The governor of Alaska, former mayor and proud "hockey mom" cracked a joke during the speech that is as telling as anything about her attitude and style: "What's the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom? Lipstick."

People saw flashes of that attitude during the speech as she blew holes through the Potemkin village that is Barack Obama's political record and platform -- each statement delivered with the accuracy of a Bobby Orr slap shot.

"(L)istening to him speak," she said, "it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform -- not even in the state senate."

And this gem: "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."

And especially this: "What does (Obama) actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger, take more of your money, give you more orders from Washington and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world."

The VP candidate's intelligence and vigor were running neck-and-neck with her charm Wednesday night.

People watching her speech likely saw aspects of themselves in Sarah Palin. A proud spouse. A loving parent. A driven professional. A strong leader. A concerned citizen who boldly dives in to make her community better -- whether she's a PTA member or the governor of an entire state.

Don't let the geographic location of Alaska fool you. Palin is Middle America, through and through. She can tell you the price of a gallon of milk because she has actually bought a few in her life. She doesn't have to rely on some political staffer to brief her on milk's price between campaign stops. She is by no means immune to the problems faced by the typical American family.

Though Palin stands on a nominee's pedestal, her ideological feet are planted firmly on the ground, standing side by side with her fellow Americans. She is simply outstanding at connecting with people.

And talk about connecting -- and resonating -- with an audience: The trio of speakers who preceded Palin reminded people what a strong slate of Republicans were vying for the presidency such a short time ago. Each speech was superb in its own way.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ripped into the liberal mentality that is permeating Washington, D.C. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee displayed his characteristic wit in constructing the grim scenario of an Obama presidency.

But former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's go-get-'em rouser so powerfully underscored what's at stake in this election. In bold strokes, he painted a compelling picture of the Democratic candidate.

"This is not a personal attack; it's a statement of fact," Giuliani said. "Barack Obama has never led anything. Nothing. Nada."

He also pointed out Obama's record as an Illinois state legislator -- during which he voted only "present" almost 130 times.

"As mayor of New York City, I never got a chance to vote 'present,' " Giuliani said. "And you know, when you're president of the United States, you can't just vote 'present.' You must make decisions."

Three compelling speakers -- all paving the way for Palin's outstanding appearance Wednesday night.

Palin is by no means "politics as usual." Choosing her for the VP slot alongside fellow self-described maverick John McCain helped send a clear message of change to voters who are throwing their hats to the ground in disgust over our ineffective, underperforming federal government.

Now voters must decide which change they can believe in.

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